The health secretary has denied Dominic Cummings’ accusations that he lied to Boris Johnson during the pandemic, telling MPs that he followed the “clinical advice” at all times.
Giving evidence to MPs at a joint inquiry by the Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees on the government’s coronavirus response, Matt Hancock insisted he never lied to the PM during the pandemic.
The health secretary is being questioned two weeks after Boris Johnson’s former aide Dominic Cummings made a series of explosive accusations while giving evidence on the government’s Covid response. Among them, Cummings claimed that Hancock “should have been fired for at least 15 to 20 things including lying.”
Asked by the chair of the science and technology committee Greg Clark whether he ever lied to the prime minister, Hancock said: “No”.
Pressed on the Covid-19 care homes crisis, the health secretary said he followed the “clinical advice” at the time.
When giving evidence two weeks ago, Cummings said that the health secretary told the prime minister in March that elderly people would be tested in hospital before being sent back to care homes – a move that would have avoided the coronavirus spreading in homes across the country.
Addressing this allegation, Hancock said: “We set out a policy that people would be tested when tests were available – and then I set about building the testing capacity.”
“The challenge was not just that we didn’t have the testing capacity but the clinical advice was that a test on somebody who didn’t have symptoms could easily return a false negative,” he said. “At the same time the clinicians were worried because it took four days to turn a test around.”
When opening the joint committee hearing, Greg Clark underlined that Cummings’ evidence from two weeks ago was “unproven”, as he still hasn’t provided any evidence for his claims, “nor any explanation as to why that has not been available.”
Speaking about the wider accusations that Dominic Cummings made against him, Hancock said it was “telling” that he’d not provided evidence yet, and that he has “no idea” why Cummings chose to be so critical of him.
Hancock also said he was aware that Cummings had wanted him sacked, as he “read it in the newspapers at the time.”